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[Fanfiction] Children


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I think I can speak for only myself when I say this. 

I stand firmly in reality. A reality where Kalenath is just a very, very productive writer, and Nikis is just a very popular character.

I have already rejected the reality many of you exist within, and substituted my own. 


nice story though.

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I think I can speak for only myself when I say this. 

I stand firmly in reality. A reality where Kalenath is just a very, very productive writer, and Nikis is just a very popular character.

I have already rejected the reality many of you exist within, and substituted my own. 


nice story though.

You poor deluded fool..... what kind of flowers should I have delivered to your funeral?

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Horatius was torn. His duty was to the human race, to the Clergy and then to the Corpus. In that order. But now he was doing something that he had promised himself he would never do. He was growing fond of someone. Growing attached. That... rarely ended well in Horatius' experience.


"No, Mike O-12." The object of Horatius worry said quietly as she pulled the offending person's hand from his mouth. "Don't suck your thumb." The tiny boy went still, and Horatius felt something inside him curl into a knot as the boy flinched back, obviously expecting harsh words or worse. But Mercedes J-54 just shook her head. "I am not going to hurt you, Mike O-12. I won't." She filled a spoon from the bowl on the table and held it out to him. "This will taste better than your thumb." Her gentle teasing coaxed  a smile from the little one and he opened his mouth dutifully and let Mercedes J-54 put the filled spoon in his mouth. Mercedes J-54 smiled as he cleaned it off. "Good boy."


Horatius fought to remain calm. To remain still. His presence was not strictly needed. He had overseen the security arrangements for this place himself. But Mercedes J-54 said it helped her. She was... coping. It was hard for her, he could see that. But as her file said she had always done, she dealt with her own needs by helping the needs of others. And oh... so many needed help.


The tiny boy in Mercedes J-54's lap was two years old. His parents had been on their way back from an extended mission mining a series of small planetoids that orbited Neptune when the Grineer had attacked. The initial attacks had been overwhelming. It had been chaos. Dozens of ships, some not so small, had been blown out of space by the clones before the fixed defenses had managed to stave off the frenzied assaults and it had settled down into what was -for all intents and purposes- a siege. An odd one. There was no way for the clones to stop all traffic. But they sure tried. Six months after the attacks had begun, the Corpus was still counting the costs. The boy's family had been one of thousands who had suddenly ceased to exist. And that left him in limbo. A limbo that others had exploited.


Mike O-12 was one of the lucky ones. The Board was not altruistic, but they had limits beyond which they would not go. Or... could not go, with the Clergy watching them like hawks. Most of them anyway. Alad V's madness and Frohd Bek's cowardice mixed with bouts of near madness made things... interesting at times. A little too interesting. But there were others.


One particularly unsavory under executive had jumped at the chance to swell the ranks of his workforce and had bought up the contracts of three hundred suddenly orphaned children. In the chaos, no one had noticed for a week. But then... It had been noticed. Several emails had been sent to the Clergy via anonymous sources. It had been investigated. And what had been found...


The girls... would recover. In time. With lots of therapy and some very careful mindwipes to remove some of the worst of the memories. The executive who had chained them in the MOA factory with only automated supervision was facing a full mindwipe himself. Yes, they were dexterous and learned fast, but the eldest had only been twelve! The youngest was Mike O-12's age. But their fate was so much better than the boys'...


Of the hundred and thirty four boys who had been 'contracted', Mike O-12 was one of thirteen survivors. Only a true madman made kids work a mine. Not even Vina had done that. They were not capable of working as hard or as long as adults. But the machines that had been ordered to 'keep them working' hadn't cared. The only reason Mike O-12 had survived was that he had been injured. His arm had been crushed in a rockfall. He hadn't been able to keep up, even when the machines had shocked him, he hadn't been able to move. So he had been left behind while almost all of the others had been worked literally to death. But not alone.


When a team had finally entered the mineshaft, they had found the boy, his arm in fleshy tatters, trying to get away from the mining MOA that was still commanding him to 'get up and work'. Still shocking him! Small wonder the team had reduced the machine to smoking shards. Small wonder the boy never talked. They were working on getting a prosthesis set up for him but it was slow going. Every time he saw a MOA, he freaked. No one blamed him at all. No one. At least... he was mostly sane. The others? No one said anything in Horatius' hearing, but they hadn't had to. The docs were grim. If anything, the boys who could be saved would need full mindwipes. Mike O-12 might need such. But first... they had to save those who could be. Not all could be and they would be eased until they passed.


"Another?" Mercedes J-54 said gently as Mike O-12 swallowed the bite. Since he wouldn't let machines tend him, Mercedes J-54 had volunteered. And since she felt better with Horatius close at hand, he had come along. But this... this was hurting Horatius. Just watching the boy struggle hurt the old and hardened special forces soldier in ways he had never been hurt. He did as he always had. Focused on his job. Mike O-12 opened his mouth again and Mercedes smiled as she filled the spoon again and gave the boy another mouthful. He was so thin. So... emaciated. They had been forced to remove his right arm at the shoulder.  "Good boy." Mercedes said kindly and the boy made a noise that was part anger, part hunger, part query and all scared. "You will be able to do this yourself soon, Mike O-12." Mercedes promised. "Until you can, we are here to help." She bowed her head, eyes glistening. "It is what we are supposed to do." She gave him another spoonful.


The boy's thin hand came up and slowly, so slowly, traced Mercedes J-54's cheek. Then he gave a small sigh and wilted, almost instantly asleep. Mercedes kept her mouth shut as she lifted the boy carefully and carried him to a specially built bed. It had no visible automation, but was set up to monitor the boy and care for him. Until and unless they could find foster parents for him... he was stuck. But they would not harm him. They would help him recover. Mercedes J-54 covered the boy with the sheet and then bent down to kiss his forehead. He murmured something, but did not wake.


Mercedes J-54 was staggering as she moved towards the door and Horatius took hold of her arm to steady her. He was expecting it so he was ready when she pulled herself into his arms and collapsed, her brave front vanishing in a torrent of tears. He hefted her easily and made sure the door shut. If Mike O-12 woke, both would be notified. Mercedes opened her mouth, probably to apologize, but Horatius spoke first.


"Human greed knows no bounds." The old soldier said as he rocked the sobbing executive assistant. "But nether does human love. There is a chance for Mike O-12, Mercedes J-54. Do not forget that. You are helping him. Do not forget that."


"It is so hard." Mercedes said as she cried. "It... I know the universe isn't fair. That nothing is free. That everything has a cost... but that?" Horatius held her gently. "Those kids didn't deserve that!"


"No, they didn't." Horatius agreed. "The one who did this will pay. But... we have to go on. How are you feeling?"


"A bit sore." Mercedes J-54 admitted with a tiny shrug. Horatius did not speak and she snarled at him. "My fault! I wanted to try that. You said it would hurt. I wanted it and you did what I wanted. My fault."


"I am a bad influence." Horatius said quietly. Mercedes shook her head savagely and Horatius shook his. "Mercedes J-54... I am not a good man. I am neither nice nor good. I do what I have to. If I have helped you, then that is a good thing. But you cannot change me. You can only change yourself and that would be wrong. You are a good person. I am not."


"You are a good man." Mercedes J-54 protested as he set her back on her feet.


"You have only seen part of me." Horatius said with a shrug. "I hope and pray you never see the rest. I would scare you." No boast. Fact. "Better?" He asked as he let her stand on her own two feet.


"Yes." Mercedes J-54 said with a sigh. They had been having this not-quite-an-argument almost none stop in the three days since she had woken after her first experience filled with a boundless determination to find out everything she could about the experience. He had... curbed her a bit. He hadn't wanted to stay, but she was determined in a lot of ways. She was a good person, and she really had no idea about some things. "Poor kid, but...we will help."


"You have helped." Horatius said with a nod. "It will take time and not a little effort but he can recover. Establishing trust again will help. If all else fails, they can make him forget the worst of it. I hope it doesn't come to that. It hurts."


"But it can help." Mercedes J-54 nodded slowly. "We better report." Horatius nodded and moved to stand behind her and to one side. "Stop that!" She said a bit more sharply than she probably intended. "You are not my servant!"


"I am also not your equal here." Horatius said calmly. "You are Vina's partner. Her administrative assistant. I am a guard."


"Gah! You are frustrating!" Mercedes J-54 said with a sigh. "Are all Special Forces this stubborn?"


"We have a class." Horatius was still calm. "And we have to pass with perfect scores." He startled a smile out of her and nodded. "It will be okay, Mercedes J-54. You need to decide."


"Part of me doesn't want to go." The young looking woman said with a frown. "This is... all I ever dared hope for. Finding Vina was a gift beyond measure. And now you..." She reached out to touch his face and he let her. "I... I am sorry, Horatius."


"For?" The soldier asked.


"For dithering." Mercedes J-54 said with a sigh as she let her hand drop. "If I go, I will not see Vina for some time. And you... You will not go. I may never see you again."


"I can't." Horatius said firmly. "I like you, Mercedes J-54, but I cannot be what you and the Reverend Mother want me to be. I am soldier. No more, no less."


"You may not see it." The woman said sadly. "But I do." She bowed her head. "I will tell the supervisor. As soon as Mike O-12 is stable and accepts another caregiver, I will go. I just... I don't want to. It will be months before I can come back."


"At least four. Probably six." Horatius agreed. "They will not let you hurt. But they need you. We all need you. You will bear the future within you. It will be... uncomfortable. But they will care for you."


"I know." Mercedes J-54 took a deep breath and let it out quickly. "Come on."


Horatius stifled a grin as he followed. One thing he liked about her, well, one of many things he liked about her. She made up her mind. It might take her a while to choose, but once she did? She acted. She was thoughtful and careful, but she also knew when to act. This was apparently one of those times. He followed her into the main room and through the small crowd of children who were working on things. It wasn't just busy work either. Some of the boys were working on hand-eye coordination, a must for any technical or military job. Several of the girls were working on a large puzzle that was a circuit diagram. Even as young as they were, it taught them about basic technical skills that were in high demand in the Corpus workforce. A few looked up and smiled at Mercedes J-54. Two would not meet her eyes and he could almost feel her sorrow.


The lot of an orphan had rarely been happy throughout human history. But when Vina had been distracted, the situations of orphans here had been... bad. Vina and the others did what they could now, but it would take time to recover the trust that had been shattered. At least... these would recover. It was the memory of the others who were gone and would never return that was slow to fade.


Mercedes walked there the Orphanage supervisor was sitting and waited for him to acknowledge her. She might been Vina's executive assistant, but by Vina and the Reverend Mother's direct command he ruled in this small abode.


"How did it go?" The man's voice was calm, but underneath lay a rage as deep as any that Horatius had ever heard. Understandable. Frank O-34 had been betrayed by the Company. Oh yes, Horatius understood that feeling. All too well.


"He ate and now is asleep." Mercedes J-54 bit her lip a little. "I don't know if he saw me, but he felt someone kind and gentle. I hope... I hope it is enough."


"Sister Harriet is coming to take over his care." Frank O-34 said with a nod. "From the look on your face... You made a decision."


"You had no reason to trust." Mercedes said heavily. "Waking here... after such a horrific thing... I don't know how you do it."


"The kids need me." Frank O-34 said quietly. "I can help. I am not going to pretend I am not angry. Especially with the latest influx of horror." He nodded to the room. Two of the girls had been rescued with Mike O-12. They were both sedated and it showed in their listless movements. "But I coaxed a smile out of Gina R-61."


"Really?" Mercedes smiled a bit forlornly. "You are good." She was actually appreciative. Then again, she had taken over Vina's orphanage when Vina had returned. Before Frank O-34 had been brought out of stasis.


"Experience." Frank O-34 said quietly. "And it is my job."


"And it is time I did mine." Mercedes J-54 said softly. She went still as Frank O-34 rose and held out his arms. She stepped forward and gave him a hug. "I am sorry. So sorry."


"Not your fault." Frank O-34 released her quickly and sat again. "One of the first things Gen H-12, my mentor, taught me. 'You cannot save everyone'. You couldn't stop that scum, but you did what you could to minimize his damage."


"Not enough." Mercedes J-54 was fighting tears now.


"It never feels enough." Frank O-34 said sadly. "But you did good." He said with a smile. "And for what it is worth? I am proud to be here. To work here. Now."


"If you need anything at all." Mercedes promised. "Vina has pledged to me 'anything you need'. All you have to do is ask."


"I...didn't believe at first." Frank O-34 said with a frown. "But she has changed."


"Not as much as you might think." Mercedes J-54 said with a smirk. Frank O-34 looked at her and her smirk widened. "You see... You are her responsibility now. Until that moron..." She would not say his name. No female employee on Vina's station would ever say his name again. They had all sworn to forget him with Vina at the head of the list. "...distracted her, she did take responsibility seriously. She taught me what responsibility was." Frank O-34's eyes went wide and Mercedes J-54 nodded. "You... and these..." She nodded to the room. "...are her people now. She will die before she lets anything happen to you or them. She made a mistake and she paid for it. Many paid for it." She bowed her head. "She cannot ever forgive herself for that. For getting distracted. A healthy and happy workforce is a productive workforce. You will help make her workforce healthy and happy. Anyone who gets in her way of making amends... Even me..." She shuddered dramatically. "Will regret it."


"I think I can live with that." Frank O-34 said with a nod. "Go on. We have this."


"Fare thee well." Mercedes said and the supervisor's eyes went wide again as she did not use the Corpus farewell. She turned and moved off, Horatius at her side. Only when they had passed the sealed and guarded doors that led into the facility's main decks did she crumple a bit. "That was... harder than I expected."


"You are a good person, Mercedes J-54." Horatius said with a smile. "So talk to Vina?"


"I um..." Mercedes paused as wall holo sprang to life. Executive Vina's face shone on it. "Ma'am?"


"I know you, Mercedes J-54." Vina said without the hint of a smile. "You are going."


"I was going to ask you to arrange transport." Mercedes J-54 said with a sigh. "I don't want to go. But my duty to the Company... I will do my duty."


"You always have, dear heart." Vina said with a sad smile. "Transport will be here tomorrow morning. For tonight? You are off duty."


"But... I had to finish the reports on the expenditures..." Mercedes J-54 trailed off as Vina glared at her. "I... Executive..."


"Commander." Vina said sharply.


"Yes, Executive Vina?" Horatius said. Why was he sensing a bubble of delight in the Executive's voice?


"She needs to be relaxed for the journey." The Executive said with a snap that was totally faked. "Spa, then a dinner. Then have fun. My treat. Get to it." This was a command.


"Vina!" Mercedes J-54 said, mortified but the holo just clicked off. "She... she can't do that..."


"Didn't you just say that if anyone got in the way of her making amends they would regret it?" Horatius said with a genuine smile as he steered the unresisting Mercedes J-54 towards an elevator. "I don't want her mad at me. And... I  like that little white thing you showed me last night."


"You are... bad." Mercedes said with a sigh as she surrendered and let him guide her into the elevator. He hit the button marked 'spa'. "She shouldn't."


"She loves you." Horatius said as he held the now crying woman.


"And I can see why."


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As adutchman i support your flower choice.

Kal i like how you keep the balance of humor and sadness. That way you don't feel like the living dead after such emotional chapters.


Humor is one thing that keeps us going in the midst of horror. Every human has limits to our ability to handle emotions. Push us past those limits and bad things happen.


Mercedes is a good woman. Horatius is NOT a good man. He was. Once. Now? He acts it well. But push HIM past his limits and you WILL regret it. Briefly.


When he warned the Reverend Mother about coercing people into his bed, there is a REASON she took his warning seriously.

Edited by Kalenath
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Little...white...?  Umm, never mind.  Nice chapter Kal.  Back to scheming next time, I assume?








(edit) And yeah, I am still waiting for Nikis to show up and hurt me. I have NO idea why he hasn't yet...

Edited by Kalenath
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Or he could be working out some sort of deal with Serene, Sun, AND Stalker?


A dark form is sitting in seiza on a sandy beach beside a dark ocean.


"You wouldn't hurt someone for telling the truth, would you, Nikis?" A female voice asked from under a beach umbrella. He looks and Serene is sitting there, out of her warframe, sipping a pina colada.


"Nah." The ancient Tenno gunfighter said with a shrug. "Fun watching them scurry though, ain't it, girl?"


"That it is." Serene said mildly. "Are they done?" They both turned to the side where... a Loki Prime and a red and black warframe were...dancing? Or were they fighting? Or what? "Guys? We kind of have to get back..."


"Party pooper." Sun said as he retreated form... the Dance Dance Revolution stage! "I will get you next time."


"Only in your dreams." Stalker said with a smirk in his voice. Sun shook his head. "What?"


"Next time it will be Guitar Hero." Sun said with a smirk in his voice. "And I have been practicing DragonForce." Stalker winced and vanished. "We have to do this again." He mused as Nikis rose and held out a hand to Serene.


"Lets not crush the kiddies too badly, Sun." Nikis said with a dark chuckle. "They have delicate egos." Sun matched his chuckle. "And I was pouting. But I ain't anymore. Am I?" He asked, staring out of the screen.


*gulp* No... Nikis... You are not...


"Smart boy." The Nekros vanished along with the Loki Prime. Serene...paused.


"You know that the Fourth Wall is a metaphor, right?" Serene said in a not unkind tone. "That any potential reality is just as possible as any other, yes?"


Yes, Serene. I know that. Kind of obvious at the moment...


"True. Then... you know what to do. You better not let Sara get any ideas about boys for a while. Or we will talk."


Yes, Ma'am.


"Good boy." The female Tenno nodded and vanished.



Edited by Kalenath
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"I am delaying." Mercedes J-54 said softly as she held Vina tight. The Executive had come down to see her partner off. "I... part of me doesn't want to go. Wants to stay. But..."


"We all have our duties." Vina said softly. "But know this. Whatever you choose, however you choose... You will always have a place here. A home to come back to and raise your child. I will try to keep the place going while you are gone."


Horatius was on edge. He wasn't sure why. He had been on edge since Mercedes had woken this morning. But something was bothering him. Something... off. He had actually taken time to armor up and grab weapons from a locker before escorting Mercedes J-54 down to the airlock where her ride waited. He wasn't overly pleased with the Tetra, Detron and Prova that were available, but he had made do with far less. He had checked them and they all worked. Mercedes was nearly bubbling with excitement mixed with trepidation so he hadn't shared his concerns with her. He also hadn't expected Vina to be able to get free, but he should have. The Executive defined stubborn.


Something was wrong. Horatius was sure of it. But no matter how he looked, he couldn't see anything. His weapons were not in hand, but they were close. Security was tight. Both Vina's and the transport crew. Two of Vina's guards watched her back. The automated systems were live, all four turrets scanning for threats. But...


"Ma'am." The leader of the escort who had been sent for Mercedes J-54 said softly. "We have a schedule to keep." He moved like  a veteran. The four other guards looked like they knew what they were doing too. The two MOAs were essentially overkill with four Flux Rifle armed guards at the ready. "I am sorry, but we have to go."


"I expected the Reverend Mother to be here." Vina said as she released her friend. "Is she busy?"


"Yes." The leader of the escort said quietly. "I don't know what. But she told us to be on guard."


Horatius forced himself not to stiffen. That... wasn't right. The Reverend Mother wouldn't tell people to be on guard. She would expect them to be. All the codes checked out, but... Vina hugged Mercedes J-54 again and the younger woman smiled indulgently as the Executive cried. Horatius took a chance and activated his com.


"Reverend Mother." He said in a sub-vocal tone. "Urgent."


"Horatius?" The reply was instant. But... She sounded sleepy? What the-? "Problem?"


"Did you send a transport for Mercedes J-54?" Horatius asked softly. A gasp came from the other and he sighed. "We have a problem. Someone hacked our codes."


"Sitrep!" She snapped in his ear.


"Transport arrived." Horatius said in that same barely audible tone. Mercedes J-54 trying to calm the flustered executive covered his voice nicely. "Two MOAs, five guards. They said they were her 'escort'."


"You were supposed to be her escort whenever you got off your silly @$$." The old woman snapped and he could hear consternation beginning behind her. She was raising the alarm. "Gut feeling?"


"A snatch." Horatius said quietly. "Snatching Mercedes J-54 before she is protected in the colony. Any number of executives would kill for pure human DNA."


"Vina?" The Reverend Mother said slowly. "We can't lose either of them."


"We won't. Get here fast." Horatius said firmly and then stepped to one of Vina's guards. He keyed for a private channel, blessing the closed helmet he had worn despite it's not quite right fit. "We have a problem." The guard did not react visibly, but his voice was tight when he spoke.


"What kind of problem?" The guard asked.


"That is not a Clergy transport." Horatius said firmly. "Don't move!" He snapped as the guard tensed. "If you instigate, they will kill Vina. It is probably a snatch on Mercedes J-54. Get Vina back to the door, and get her out! Do not let her back in here no matter what happens, clear?"


"Clear." The guard said and the channel cut. Then he spoke aloud. "Executive? You are needed." Vina looked at him as Horatius stepped forward. "There may be a problem with one of the air circulators."


"Oh, not again!" Vina said sourly, but to Horatius' relief, she gave Mercedes J-54 another hug and stepped towards the door. "Which?" She asked, her tone resigned.


"They are not sure." The guard said as he and his cohort, who must have just been brought up to speed, moved to flank her. "Either the A-43 or the G-12." Horatius tried not to groan. Those were Corpus codes for 'enemies present'. Well known codes.


A bunch of things happened at once. The leader of the 'escort' cursed and reached for a pocket. One guard grabbed Vina, turning to place his armored bulk between her and the imposters as the other hit the door control. The rest of the 'escort' gawked for just a moment. Just a moment too long. Horatius drew. He threw himself forward as his Detron came off his hip, the weapon tracking onto the right hand MOA. Mercedes J-54 gave a squeak that turned into a scream as he slammed into her, knocking her down and his pistol roared. The MOA went down, not even sparking and he was tracking on the other as the humans went for their weapons. The security turrets... powered down!


"Mercedes!" Vina screamed as her guard literally threw her through the door that had just opened. Both of her guard hustled out of the room as Horatius' second shot tore the second MOA to pieces moments before it's weapon could finish locking onto him.


"Stay down!" Horatiius grunted to Mercedes J-54 as he tracked onto a human target. The crewman was unlimbering his Flux Rifle when Horatius' shot blew half of his arm off. Then the escort leader had a weapon out. Some kind of trank gun. He gave a shrill scream that cut off as Horatius fired again. He fell, his unarmored head a smoking mess.


Then it was all fire and fury. But only for a moment before three tongues of fire touched him nearly at once. Darkness roared up and grabbed him.




"Leave him! We have to go!" A harsh voice pulled Horatius back to pain filled awareness. He couldn't move. He... couldn't see. His HUD was dark. His arm was on fire. His chest. His gut. "Grab the girl and let's get out of here! Now! The override codes won't hold the systems with them aware!"


"He killed..." A younger, angrier voice sounded.


"Go!" The first voice commanded.


"Horatius!" Mercedes J-54 was crying, screaming, cursing. "Horatius!" Her cries were cut off by the sound of a hatch. They had taken her!


Horatius called on his training and fought his way back to full consciousness. He hurt. Everything hurt. But he was alive. He hit his com.


"Don't let them leave! Disable their drives!" He groaned out. "I need my 'special' pack in airlock twenty six! Now!"


"Commander Horatius." Vina said quickly, rage and fear warring in her tone. "What is going on?"


"Not Clergy." Horatius said with a grunt as he rolled to a sitting position. "Didn't feel right... I checked... Not Clergy... Black ops snatch team!"


"Black ops..." Vina cursed vilely for a moment. "What can I do?"


"Try to use the facility defenses to disable the ship's drives." Horatius sat for a moment, his head swimming. "They don't want her dead. They want her alive. They will have a plan to evade the sensors." The door hissed and a guard came running in, a bundle in hand. He laid it down at Horatius' feet and back away slowly. Horatius slowly lowered his pistol. "Announce yourself next time, moron. I nearly killed you." The Special Forces operative said harshly.


"Sir, you are hit." The guard said slowly as Horatius dropped the pistol and reached for his pack.


"No S#&$, Sherlock." Horatius snapped as he started pulling stuff from his pack. The Marlock pistol that was one of his most prized possessions. A trophy and an excellent weapon. The silenced Burston replaced the Tetra on his back. His own highly modified Prova replaced the standard one. The specialized helmet that took the place of the standard issue one. He rose and slid his assault harness over the spacesuit. It was... scorched in three places. The armor had diminished the beam's effectiveness, but not stopped them. He was alive. "Executive Vina, do not let that ship leave. If it gets far enough away, it will spoof the sensors and we will never find her. Not in time anyway."


"Sir, you are hit bad." The guard pleaded. "Let me... let me do something."


"Get out." Horatius snapped as he moved to the airlock. "Unless you want to go 'Dutchman'." The guard stared at him and then broke and ran. Smart kid.


"Commander..." Vina sounded very upset now. "You can't..."


"If we give them time, they will either mindwipe her or impregnate her. Maybe both." Horatius said firmly. "If the transport tries to leave, blow it's engines off. You... know what she would want, Executive." His vision was fuzzing, and he directed his suit to administer a stimulant. It warned him in strident red letters that he was exceeding safety protocols and he overrode that with a quick flip. "I am the only chance she has. If they get desperate... you know the Board's policy." 'No negotiations with kidnappers'. He checked the screens and yes, the ship was close enough.


"I... I know." Vina was crying. "Don't die, Horatius. She loves you too."


"Oh, I am not going to die today, Executive Vina." Horatius said as a familiar feeling stole over him. Power. Familiar power. The pain faded. Rage made a hell of an anesthetic. "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil! FOR I AM THE BADDEST MOTHER-****ER IN THE WHOLE DAMN VALLEY!"


With that, he hit the 'emergency vent' command.




It was crazy. It was exhilarating. It was beyond stupid. And... It was the only way.


The outgassing of air from the room threw Horatius about like a ragdoll, but he had trained for such. The ship was still close. They had to know what would happen if they tried to flee. Very few people tried to kidnap Corpus members anymore. It... never ended well for the kidnappers. Tenno could manage it. No one else. Even if some nutball managed it, no ransoms would be paid. But this wasn't a kidnapping for ransom. This was worse. Whatever they wanted Mercedes J-54 for, it wouldn't be good. The only thing that Horatius and Vina had going for them was that if the team who had taken her had wanted Mercedes J-54 dead, they could have killed her easily anytime. They wanted her alive. Probably for her ability to bear children.


Not necessarily sane, but alive. Women didn't need to be sane to bear children after all. The machinery would do it all. Who cared what it would do to the woman's mental state even if her snatch hadn't driven her crazy?


Horatius cared. He shouldn't. But he did.


He flew through space. His assault harness provided limited ability to correct his course, but he would use it sparingly. It also augmented his shields significantly. His specially modified helmet looked like normal Corpus issue. It was anything but. His HUD picked out the ship's hatch as he flew towards it and he turned, setting himself as the hull grew in his view.


Then he hit. The pain was an old friend. He rode the pain, his anger fanning further and further. He had taught himself early on how to hate and when. It was one of his best kept secrets. His magnetic boots activated and he took a quick step towards the airlock he could see nearby. Then another. Then he was at the airlock.


Corpus codes were standardized. But... there were number of sensors at any airlock that would allow any crew to know instantly that the airlock had been opened. That was fairly important on a spacecraft after all. Even Grineer would want to know when an airlock had been accessed. Tenno did not use airlocks until their missions were done. Horatius was not Tenno. But he didn't need to be.


A quick override code, one that was hard wired into every single airlock built by the Corpus and the outer hatch opened with no difficulty. Corpus Special Forces and Clergy operatives often needed access to Corpus ships under less than ideal circumstances. So, he knew the hardwired accesses. And... since he knew this kind of transport... He knew where to go. As soon as the airlock equalized and the inner hatch opened, he was gone.




The largest Corpus black ops team that Horatius had ever seen had been ten people strong. This...wasn't black ops. He encountered his first opponents before he had gone one corridor from the airlock. They...were not alert. The patrol had no idea he was there until four quick bursts from his silenced Burston, fired fast enough to be almost non-stop, had them all down. He didn't have time to be gentle or subtle. Not that he would have anyway. None of his targets would be able to sound an alarm. Not the two MOAs, not the two crewmen. Not with their helmets -and what was under them- blown away. He found a small room with a terminal and hacked in, using more Clergy codes. He accessed the security feeds. Lots of crew. Lots of them, but... few armed. Then his guts froze. Mercedes was being laid in a pod of some kind by two of the men from the 'escort'. She looked... still. Life readings, so she wasn't dead. But... He snarled as one of the men produced a large pair of shears and started to cut her garment off. Another was...shaving her head.  Several MOAs stood around protectively.


A red light appeared. Someone was using the com. He keyed to listen. What he heard...was not what he expected.


"What the hell is going on?" A loud voice snapped. "What did you do?" The female voice...was not familiar. But it had to be the officer in charge of the transport. She sounded... terrified.


"We have to get out of here!" That voice was one he knew. The harsh voice from the bogus 'escort' team. "Get us away from the facility!"


"They have us locked up! If I try, they will blow us out of space. What did you do?" She demanded again. "They are demanding to board!"


"Need to know, navigator and you do not." The other snapped right back. "Get us clear and get us power to the portal generator."


Portal? Horatius went still. They had a portal generator aboard? Then he kicked himself. Of course they did. And the crew were decoys. Probably hired. Easy to throw away. He keyed the com. He barely recognized his own voice.


"Once chance." Everything went still over the com. On the vid, all of the black ops froze for a moment, then went back to their tasks. "Drop your weapons and live. Power up and the facility blows the engines off this tub. You are not getting away with her. Give it up and I won't kill every last one of you." He was lying. He knew he was. He wanted to kill them all. But not quickly. He wanted them screaming.


"What the F*** did you DO?" The navigator screamed. There was no response. "Whoever... whatever... I surrender... please..." She begged. "They hired us... they didn't say..."


"Where?" Horatius snarled.


"Section 12-A." The navigator said, her tone abject. "Five of them, four MOAs. One... medical MOA... I..."


"Contact the facility. Tell Vina you surrender. Do it now." Horatius said firmly. "Oh, and you better clear the area around that section. Because I have no time to be nice." A babbled response came from the com, but Horatius was gone. 12-A wasn't far.


The hatch was sealed of course. He had charges that would burn through. But what would be the point? It would take time. Time that Mercedes J-54 did not have. He shot the security camera out of reflex and moved to the side. A quick jump had him at an air vent that he hit with the stock of his rifle. It fell apart. Then he was in the vent. He paused at the next one.


"Sir?" One of the other voices that Horatius remembered asked. Young and scared.


"Get the drip started. We can power the portal up enough for one, send her through." The voice of what had to be the team leader said harshly. A murmur sounded and the black ops man snarled. "We are not getting away! That Special Forces moron screwed everything up. But we can accomplish our mission. Status?"


"She is stable." A pain filled voice. Horatius had hurt him. Bad? "Sir... Orders are orders... but..."


"Do it." The leader snapped. "Wipe her." Horatius heard another snarl. His voice. "Oh S#&$!"


What happened next seemed to be in slow motion. A kick threw the remnants of the air vent cover into the room. A tiny device followed it. Even as the MOAs were turning to face the vent, the highly illegal EMP grenade went off and all five of them suddenly went limp. It also, coincidentally, killed the lights and shorted out any non shielded HUDs. Horatius could see. No one else could for a moment. And a moment was all he needed. His Burston was tracking targets. They were not people. They were targets. His objective lay on the floor. Out of the line of fire. He was in the room and sliding to the side before the first panicked fire came from one of the goons. In comparison, Horatius was ice cold as he tracked on the one who seemed in charge and two quick bursts tore the man's legs off.


They returned fire, but they couldn't see him. He could see them. It was over in moments. He put a last burst into a screaming man who had thrown his rifle away and was begging. Then he rose as the lights came back on. The only survivors besides Horatius and Mercedes J-54 were the enemy team commander who was moaning as he clutched the stumps of his legs and an unarmed ashen faced man in a medical tunic. His arm was covered in a radiation dressing. The medic raised empty hands.


"They have my family!" The man begged as he knelt. "I... had no choice..."


"You know they are already dead. No witnesses." Horatius's voice was a cold, dead thing. His com chimed and he spoke. "Yes?"


"Spirit, this is Vina Team Sixteen! Approaching your position with medical support!" The voice was one he knew. A good man, that guard. "Check fire, check fire!"


"One enemy combatant prisoner." Horatius said quietly. "One... unknown." He glanced at Mercedes and his heart lightened a little as he saw her chest rose and fall. "Target secured. I say again, target secured."


The hatch hissed open and Horatius turned his rifle muzzle away from the team of Vina's guards who came bustling in, weapons at the ready.


"Sir..." The guard leader sounded shocked, staring at the carnage and at Horatius who...finally let go of his rage.


He never felt the floor.


Edited by Kalenath
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Stupid bastards never know when to quit do they?  Fun, fun chapter Kal.  Looking forward to the return of the scheming, whenever that is.


Also, nice Zaeed Massani reference.




I based Horatius on Zaeed Massani.


When he is working with a team or has a specific mission, he is cool, even tempered with just a hint of 'danger' underlying him. When he goes off? RUN and DON'T look back!


He COULD have taken the Black Ops team prisoner. He didn't WANT to.

Edited by Kalenath
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Heheh.  Seems to be a common theme with your characters.  Nice enough normally, nightmare fuel when angered.


So where would Horatius rate on the general scale of badassery?  Nikis would be at the top, a few dozen levels above everyone else, followed at some point by Serene and Sun.  Horatius...I'd place a little below Lis?

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Heheh.  Seems to be a common theme with your characters.  Nice enough normally, nightmare fuel when angered.


So where would Horatius rate on the general scale of badassery?  Nikis would be at the top, a few dozen levels above everyone else, followed at some point by Serene and Sun.  Horatius...I'd place a little below Lis?


Horatius is not Tenno. He knows it. He is way, WAY below even Lis on the badass level.


But on a pure human level? (Which he is NOT by the way) Lets put it this way. The REVEREND MOTHER is afraid of him.


She has cause.

Edited by Kalenath
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